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Wonder In Wood

The Christmas crib or manger is to be found in many areas of the Christian world. In Germany, the first cribs were built and became a part of Christmas for the common people, especially for those living in mountain areas. In the western Erzgebirge, the carvings were at first of an oriental style, but later took on more and more local elements, some from the world of the miner.

 

 
This is why there is such a strong connection between the crib and the "Christmas mountain" which is a complex system of terraces or platforms, parts of them being decorated with little figures which can be moved mechanically, set against countryside scenes, towns and villages and relocating the Nativity of Christ to a local farmhouse or miner's locker room.

 

Particularly fine examples of cribs were soon in the public eye. In 1814, for example, in the Annaberger Wochenblatt (the Annaberg Weekly News) there was a "rather new crib, quite good in weight" on offer and not soon after, advertisements inviting people to come and look at homemade Christmas mountains and cribs.

Figures made of paper mäche or paper pulp, little model trees, fences, and houses were all used to decorate the cribs and mountains as can be seen in the pattern books from the Erzgebirge from the middle of the 19th. century. And the little boxes made of cardboard or wood shavings often contained such decorative parts, lovingly made accessories from Seiffen.


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